“[Montessori…]: the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the schools’ alumni that one might begin to suspect a Montessori mafia”
Peter Sims, The Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2011
Sergey Brin and Larry Page – Google founders
Google ran one of its famous doodles on Friday in honour of Maria Montessori. No surprises there…both of the company’s founders went to Montessori schools. Wired magazine said, “You can’t understand Google unless you know [its founders] were Montessori kids… In a Montessori school, you paint because you have something to express or you just want to… not because the teacher said so. This is baked into Larry and Sergey… it’s how their brains were programmed early on.”
Jeff Bezos – Amazon founder
Amazon’s founder, who regularly cites his Montessori roots, has been described as a study in contradictions: analytical and intuitive, careful and audacious, playful and determined. Critics point to his extraordinary ability to learn from others, one hallmark of Montessori education.
Will Wright – Video game pioneer (The Sims, SimCity)
Wright told The Wall Street Journal “Montessori taught me the joy of discovery. It showed you can become interested in pretty complex theories, like Pythagorean theory, say, by playing with blocks. It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than a teacher explaining stuff to you. SimCity comes right out of Montessori.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Nobel prize-winning author
Marquez said his Montessori education gave him “the desire to kiss literature” and states, “I do not believe there is a method better than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life.”
Anne Frank – Memoirist and author
Anne Frank’s famous diary is a natural extension of her school experience. She—like all Montessori students—learned to cultivate observation skills and record her thoughts in a journal early on. Diary of a Young Girl has been translated into 67 languages and is one of the best loved books in the world.
Helen Keller – Political activist
Maria Montessori said that if, deaf and blind, Helen Keller became “a woman and writer of exceptional culture, who better than she proves the potency of [the Montessori] method?” In her tribute to Montessori, Helen’s teacher Anne Sullivan observed, “Only through freedom can people develop self control, self dependence, willpower and initiative. This is the lesson Helen’s education has for the world.”
Anthony Doerr – Author
This internationally-acclaimed American author was once a Montessori student. In an interview with his former school, Post Oak in Houston he said “Of all the skills nine years of Montessori education gave me—critical thinking skills, social skills, kickball skills—the most lasting has been a sense of my place in deep geologic time. We were making twenty-foot-long timelines as early as first grade. I could spell Paleozoic before I could spell Coca-Cola.”
Peter Drucker – Author, Management consultant, and “social ecologist”.
Drucker is one of the most influential management gurus in history. His work focuses on human relationships as opposed to numbers-crunching; his books are filled with lessons on how organizations can bring out the best in people, and how workers can find dignity and community in their work.
Erik Erikson – Psychologist & author
The Danish-German-American psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on human social development, Erikson may be most famous for coining the phrase “identity crisis”. He found Montessori ideas so compelling that studied them as an adult, acquiring a Montessori teaching certificate but never teaching in a classroom.
Icons of Popular Culture
And the list goes on with singers and actors amongst the well known former Montessori students with former students including Beyoncé, YoY o Ma, George Clooney, John and Joan Cusack, Sean Combs (P. Diddy) Taylor Swift, Helen Hunt and Dakota Fanning.
Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the first practical telephone, helped create the first Montessori school in Canada. Thomas Edison, inventor of the incandescent light bulb, kick-started four Montessori schools.
If you want more information about these famous Montessorians just go to the online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia – which also happens to have been founded by a former Montessori student, Jimmy Wales – OK, now we are just showing off.